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Banda Vol 1

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It has come to my attention that there are many northern visitors here who don't have Mexican cable TV, and therefore, probably have never seen Mexican music videos.  How sad! Mexican music is cheerful and vibrant, some is riotously up-tempo, and the bandas are comprised of guys who can sing, dance, play an instrument, and smile, all at the same time. Works for me!  Some of them even appear to have day jobs as charros - that is, cowboys.  

The cable video channel which emanates from Guadalajara features mostly banda, which is a style derived from German and other European immigrants who came to Mexico in the 19th century, and brought with them the musical instruments of their homeland - accordions, trumpets, trombones, tubas, and clarinets - as well as their popular musical style - polka.  (Various string instruments had already been brought over by the Spanish, and their use evolved into Mariachi.)  As the local people learned to play and master these instruments, bandas were formed in many villages to provide Sunday afternoon entertainment in their plazas.  Increasing in popularity, and encouraged by the revolutionary leaders, bandas became part of most of the fiestas and government holiday parades, evoking a somewhat European/North American military band style.

Coincidentally with the North American Big Band era of the 30’s and 40s, banda music gradually evolved into a more commercially viable style.  Utilizing the innovations of sound technology, vocalists were added, and this style has grown to be very popular around this area and among many Mexicans in general.

Most banda music is extremely up-tempo - you will certainly see the relation to polka music, but it is played with that very special, dynamic Mexican…zing.  Bandas also play songs with other rhythms and styles, such as the hypnotic Cumbia beat, which comes from Colombia, ranchera, and norteno, as well as exquisitely romantic ballads.  A few songs reveal a North American pop influence.

The dominant mood of most music here is that quintessentially Mexican alegria - that is, cheerfulness.  You’ll hear it in the air all over Mexico, an important element of the sound track here, along with the happy kids and songbirds, as well as guys singing along with the jukeboxes in the cantinas, as they have a few after a hard day's work.

Another couple of cable channels feature international "pop" music in Spanish, which falls from being very Latin to very Euro-Northern pop.  The only glimpse I had previously had of these styles was when I happened to come across the impressive Latin Grammy show some time ago, which rocked the audience with lots of warmth and intense rhythm.

Not everyone is aware that the native Spanish-speaking world is as big as the native English-speaking world, and the Spanish music world is equally important.  (I don't like to call it "Latin" music. I took Latin in high school, and, trust me, they are not singing in Latin!)  By watching these Mexican channels, I've discovered a whole new world of music which I would like to share with you.  I hope you enjoy the following links to these professional videos.

Bringing a wild and crazy rock star sort of energy to traditional Mexican music, here is Bruno de Jesus with an irresistibly catchy tune called "Cumbia de los Pasitos."

Bruno used to sing in a very popular band called Los Cuisillos, who have had many hits over the years.  You can spot him dancing in this video, although he is not the lead singer.  Here are Los Cuisillos doing Vanidosa.  Their stage uniforms always include native costumes and face paint.

The very popular Julion Alvarez had a huge hit, La Maria and made a funny video to it.  Try dancing to this for a good cardio workout!

The above song appears to have been influenced by this much more down home song by Huichol Musical, who are kind of like Mexican bluegrass.  This song is called Que Feo Se Siente (how ugly it feels).  The Huichols also make the extraordinary tiny-beaded jewelry and art that they sell in this area.

In addition to up-tempo dance music, romantic ballads are a staple of Mexican music. In this song, Te Presumo (I'm showing off for you because you are for me, what a queen), by Banda El Recodo, the young man sings his heart out with his high sweet tenor, and is still heard around town just about every day.

Mana (Man-AH) is a major rock band from Guadalajara.  Here is their hit, El Tiburon,The Shark, which features gorgeous dancers and a cautionary tale about those kisses...

Also from Guadalajara is the extraordinarily handsome Alejandro Fernandez, who started his career singing traditional ranchera and mariachi with his famous father, Vicente Fernandez and only recently morphed into a more pop style.  Enjoy this enchanting and exquisitely romantic song.....Canta, Corazon (Sing, heart).


Speaking of handsome, here is Juanes, the international Colombiano rocker, who seamlessly fuses a North American rock sensibility with traditional Colombian cumbia beat in this hypnotic song, Yerbatero.  He is singing I'm an herb man, I bring medicinal plants to cure your heartache and pain...etc.  Enjoy this psychedelically tinged video!


Back to Mexico...Do you like to Zumba?  Here is Barrio Zumba doing Soy Mexicano (I'm Mexican).  The fun and funny video was shot on the streets of Guadalajara.

Reggaeton is the name for Mexican "rap" style music, which is generally a higher quality sound than that which emanates from the United States.

This little cinematic gem features Calle 13 (Calle Trece), one of the best groups of this style.  This song won a grammy and was the first major hit for Ca. 13.


Closing this set is Banda Pequenos Musical with the ballad, Reencuentro, sung in soulful three part harmony, with a story of a man who runs into his old love with her new love and how sorry he is that he lost her.

I hope that you've enjoyed these videos as much as I do.  There are many more where these came from.  Hasta luego!

Micki Wendt

Archives for Volume Two by clicking here.

Archives for Volume Three by clicking here.

Archives for Volume Three by clicking here.

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